Black Knight

Pinball published 41 years ago by Williams Mfg.

Listed and emulated in MAME.

Black Knight © 1980 Williams.


Williams System 7
Model Number : 500

Main CPU : M6808 (@ 895 KHz)
Sound CPU : M6808 (@ 894.750 KHz)
Sound chips : DAC, HC55516


Released in November 1980.

Black Knight introduced 'Magna-Save' and the Bonus Ball concept where the player with the highest score won additional seconds of free play. BK was also the first game ever that had a split level or 'two level' playfield. Magna-Save was a feature where a user could press a button on either side and magnets would prevent the ball from draining via that outlane. It would stop and hold the ball and drop it into the inlane. The user had to perform some task to re-enable Magna-Save.

Comments from the designer : Black Knight was the first game ever to employ faceted inserts (the transparent inlaid plastic windows) in the playfield. My design was a simple eight-sided 'Jewel Look', but insert texturing progressed from there to many different designs, finally settling on refracting radial lines originating at the center of round and rectangular inserts and from points of arrows and lightning bolts, etc.

13,075 units were produced.

A Black Knight unit appears in the 1987 movie, 'Superman IV - The Quest for Peace'.


* Multiball : Multiball play on Black Knight involves 2 or 3 balls. Balls are locked on the upper playfield, behind the left drop target bank. Balls are released for Multiball play by locking three balls on upper playfield, or by locking one or two balls on upper playfield, and another ball in the kickout hole on the lower playfield (behind the right drop target bank).
There is no time limit for locking balls for Multiball play. The game can be adjusted to allow lit 'LOCK' lights to remain lit from ball to ball, or will reset with each new ball played (default). The latter is the more difficult setting, and requires the player to lock 2 or 3 balls on the upper playfield during the course of one ball-in-play, in order to achieve Multiball play. See the game's adjustments in the Instruction Booklet for more details.
During Multiball, all scoring is multiplied by the number of balls on the playfield (2X, or 3X).

* Drop Targets : There are 2 banks of drop targets on each playfield level. Targets on the left side of the playfield are denoted by blue lights in front of them, and targets on the right side are denoted by orange lights.
The drop target banks are timed, so after hitting one or more targets in a bank, you have only a limited amount of time to hit the rest of the targets in that bank, before the bank is reset.
Completing a bank of drop targets activates a Magna-Save on the lower playfield, if one or both are not lit (See Magna-Save below).
Completing a bank of drop targets also lights one of the three arrow lights in front of the bank. Completing each bank of drop targets on either playfield level three times each, lights the Extra Ball on the upper playfield (see Extra Ball below).
The amount of time allowed to the player to complete a bank of drop targets before they reset, is adjustable. See the Instruction Manual for more information.

* Extra Ball : There are 2 possible ways to achieve an Extra Ball : one on the upper playfield, and one on the lower.
To light the first Extra Ball light (upper playfield), the player must complete the upper or lower playfield drop target banks three time each. Then shoot the ball through the left ramp u-turn on the upper playfield to score the Extra Ball.
The second Extra Ball is lit by completing all four drop target banks (upper and lower playfields) three times each. This lights the Extra Ball in the turn-around on the lower playfield.
One arrow in front of a drop target bank is lit each time the bank is completed.

* Mystery Score : When the ball goes through the left flipper return lane (which may be assisted by Magna-Save), the center ramp is lit for a short time for Mystery Score. The Mystery Score is awarded upon completion of the center ramp when lit, and awards a random value of 20,000 to 99,000 points (Contrary to today's hyper-inflated-score games, this is a significant award).

* Spinner : When the ball goes through the right flipper return lane (which may also be assisted by Magna-Save), the spinner is lit for a short time for 5,000 points per spin. A well-placed shot through the spinner can award as much as 100,000 points!

* Bonus Multipliers : The turn-around on the lower playfield awards bonus multipliers. When all bonus multipliers have been attained (2X, 3X, 4X, 5X), and bonus value is at maximum, the bonus lights in the 'sword' on the lower playfield will animate and 'scroll'. The bell will ring each time additional bonus-awarding targets are made after this point (flipper return lanes, outlanes, and drop target bank completion).

* Magna-Save : Magna-Save features are activated by completing a bank of three drop targets. The right Magna-Save will always become activated before the left. Pressing the red button above the white flipper button will activate the Magna-Save feature for the corresponding side of the playfield. The Magna-Save feature is used to attempt to 'grab' the ball, and drop it down the flipper return lane, to allow it to continue in play. Magna-Save features must be re-activated after being used by completing a drop target bank again.
The amount of time that the Magna-Save feature is on, when activated by the player, is adjustable. See game adjustments in the Instruction Manual.

* Bonus Ball : If 2 or more players are in the game, the player with the higher score at the end of the game gets a 30 second Bonus Ball (this feature, and it's time limit are adjustable- see Instruction Manual). 'Bonus Ball' is actually an unlimited number of balls available to the player, but only for the 30-second period. So you can lose the ball as often as you wish during Bonus Ball, and it will be replenished, until the 30 seconds has expired.
The goal during Bonus Ball is to complete all 4 drop target banks in the 30-second Bonus Ball time, in order to light the turn-around for Special. The turn-around must be completed to obtain the Special.

* Strategies :
1. Go for the Extra Ball. It is easiest to complete the drop target banks on the upper playfield to light the first Extra Ball (upper playfield). And drop targets can be completed much faster during Multiball.
2. If center ramp is lit for Mystery Score, and you miss the shot from the lower left flipper, but manage to get the ball up to the upper playfield anyway, allow it to drain back down the center ramp, if possible. This will award the Mystery Score if you can do it before the Mystery Score light goes out.
3. During Multiball, focus your concentration on the playfield level that has the most balls on it. That is, if more balls (2 or more) are in play on the upper playfield, focus your attention on the flippers there. Or if more balls are on the lower playfield, focus your attention there. The playfield with more balls on it will be the source of more scored points during Multiball.
4. During Multiball, concentrate on making the Mystery Score and Spinner shots when lit, as described above. This is where the big points come in, especially with the Multiball playfield score multipliers lit.
5. Biggest points are awarded during Multiball. To get bigger scores, focus on locking balls for Multiball play, and on personal strategies and skills for keeping balls in play longer during Multiball.


1. Black Knight (1980)
2. Black Knight 2000 (1989)


Design by : Steve Ritchie
Art by : Tony Ramunni
Software by : Larry DeMar


Nintendo Wii (2008, Pinball Hall of Fame: The Williams Collection)
Sony PlayStation 2 (2008, Pinball Hall of Fame: The Williams Collection)
Sony PlayStation Portable (2008, Pinball Hall of Fame: The Williams Collection)


Game's ROM.